Wicked to the Core is the first of two Disney Villainous expansions from design collective Prospero Hall and publisher Ravensburger. The team behind the likes of Jaws is back, with three new wicked characters; Snow White’s Evil Queen, Hercules’ Hades and The Princess and the Frog’s Dr. Facilier. Wicked in a sense of both evilness and 90’s slang. Playable as an expansion or a standalone title for 2 – 3 players, Wicked to the Core maintains the typical 45 minute playtime. However, is this the stand out expansion that the films deserve? Let’s find out!
For those unaware of the Disney Villainous games, each player takes control of a unique villain. As each villain comes with their own player board, villain and fate decks, a 3D character pawn and objective, the only thing players share component wise are power tokens. By activating different locations each turn, players trigger a range of actions, from playing cards to vanquishing heroes from their realm, all in an effort to win. For a more comprehensive explanation of the basic Disney Villainous rules check out our review of the base game.
The character most have wanted to play, the Evil Queen, is certainly a little different. Her objective is simple to defeat Snow White. To make things more interesting players must cycle through their villain deck to gain four ingredients that can unlock the Dwarf’s Cottage location. Among those stopping the Evil Queen are of course the seven dwarfs – though the Evil Queen has no vanquish action. Instead she relies upon poison which she brews from power tokens to defeat heroes, including Snow White. As it handles heroes differently from the norm, the Evil Queen isn’t ideal for brand new players to learn the game as a whole – otherwise she isn’t an overly complicated villain to play as.
Hades comes with the wrath of Titans, but with Hercules in his way. Hades’ objective is to storm Mount Olympus with three titans, moving them slowly but surely along the player board from where they spawn. Hades’ fate deck is all about hindering the titans moving – though the general objective to play titans and move them is otherwise a rather easy one. This is one of the easiest villains to teach to new players, at least once you know the hero yourself.
Slightly naively we decided to have new players play as original characters, while those used to the game played characters from the expansion. This would have been okay if we had played them before. Alas we had not. On top of learning a new character, regardless of how easy they were to play, we were also teaching the new players. This meant that neither quite got full attention and the game speed plummeted as a result. While Hades would be ideal to teach to new players it did highlight a slight awkwardness trying to introduce new players and new characters simultaneously.
The third character in the Wicked to the Core box is Dr. Facilier. Dr. Facilier sees somewhat of a tug of war for his objective – attempting to keep control of the talisman while ruling New Orleans. Once played the talisman attaches itself to Heroes of strength 3 or less, with the player needing to defeat them in order to reclaim the talisman. This can see victory be within reach, before a dastardly hero snatches it away – a true reversal of fate. An additional twist is a third pile of cards, the fortune pile – which players will need to play the Rule New Orleans card into before you can win. There are a few steps to victory for Dr. Facilier making him harder for new players to see the route to victory, even if they are close.
Dr. Facilier is the first Disney Villainous character so far that I have known little about. The impact of this is that I miss the little touches, and the relevance of specific card art or the names of cards. This isn’t to the extent I wouldn’t play as Dr. Facilier again, his objective is fun battle against the heroes played on you. Nevertheless, as characters go he doesn’t grab my attention.
This is perhaps due to the fact that Hades and the Evil Queen are right up there, being from iconic Disney films. Dr. Facilier just seems to fade to the background when these characters are available, let alone from the base game or the Evil Comes Prepared expansion. While this shows what you think of a character before the game can impact your enjoyment it also shows the range of characters now available – so there should be a favourite for everyone.
With cards full of glorious artwork from the animated films, which are made of decent card stock, there is little to fault production wise. The cards sit next to fairly robust player boards that aren’t exactly overused, though they are minutely flimsier than those in the base game. The player pawns are over-the-top compared to what is needed. Yet, they give the game that additional wow factor, with the quality matching those found in the base game.
Gamers are going to look at this expansion based on the characters included. For 2 out of 3 to be incredible – with one okay villain – Wicked to the Core is a fairly successful expansion. While Hercules may be my favourite Hero included, playing as the Evil Queen and boiling vials of poison is just that little bit special. As a way to extend the gameplay of the base game this is a great expansion. I can appreciate the ability for it to be standalone, though I’d encourage players to start with the base game.
[Editor’s Note: Disney Villainous Wicked to the Core was provided to us by Ravensburger for the review.]